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Burger King tries to Shut Down in Russia, but Operator Alexander Kolobov Refuses to Close Down their 800 Restaurants

There has been much pressure on political and business leaders to limit business and trade with Russia since Putin’s military attacks against Ukraine, and fast-food franchises are no different. 

Over 400 Western companies have pulled out of Russia in under four weeks, yet some are bound to stay open in Russia due to legal restrictions, like Burger King which has around 800 restaurants in Russia.

David Shear, the president of the company that owns Burger King, Restaurant Brands International, wrote a press release Thursday to explain why they haven’t shut down in Russia. He said that the restaurant operator, Alexander Kolobov, refused to shut down their 800 restaurants.

An article on The Hill explained how “the contract between the corporate entity and franchises involves extensive commitment to long-term investments resulting in a complicated legal process to close any franchisee-owned business.”

“Would we like to suspend all Burger King operations immediately in Russia? Yes. Are we able to enforce a suspension of operations today? No,” Shear wrote.

Since Restaurant Brands International entered the Russian market around 10 years ago, they now have 800 Burger Kings in the country, run by local businessman Alexander Kolobov.

Shear said that even though he “demanded the suspension of Burger King restaurant operations in Russia,” Kolobov refused, and after being bound by a legal contract, there’s nothing he can do to shut down these restaurants.

“Any current attempt to enforce our contract would ultimately require the support of Russian authorities on the ground and we know that will not practically happen anytime soon,” Shear wrote. “This is also why you may see other brands in Russia with similar structures continue to operate in the market.”

In support of Shear’s words, there are other companies in Russia facing similar problems shutting down. On Tuesday, New York Times reported that Papa John’s has around 190 stores still open after another local franchise owner refused to close.

While many companies like Restaurant Brands International, Starbucks, Papa John’s, and McDonald’s released last week that they would be shutting down stores in Russia in support of Ukraine, many other companies may face similar issues closing down within the next few weeks. The 800 Burger King restaurants might not be able to shut down in Russia any time soon, but Restaurant Brands International is showing its support for Ukraine by providing business profits to assist Ukrainian refugees during these uncertain times.

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